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Case Studies

Case study research is a time-honored, traditional approach to the study of topics in social science and management. Because only a few instances are normally studied, the case researcher will typically uncover more variables than he or she has data points, making statistical control (ex., through multiple regression) an impossibility. This, however, may be considered a strength of case study research: it has the capability of uncovering causal paths and mechanisms, and through richness of detail, identifying causal influences and interaction effects which might not be treated as operationalized variables in a statistical study, As such it may be particularly helpful in generating hypotheses and theories in developing fields of inquiry. 

In recent years there has been increased attention to implementation of case studies in a systematic, stand-alone manner which increases the validity of associated findings. However, although case study research may be used in its own right, it is more often recommended as part of a multimethod approach ("triangulation") in which the same dependent variable is investigated using multiple additional procedures (ex., also grounded theory, survey research, sociometry and network analysis, focus groups, content analysis, ethnography, participant observation, narrative analysis, analysis of archival data, or other methods). 

Table of Contents

Case Studies	4
Overview	4
Key Concepts and Terms	5
Types of case studies	5
Representativeness	5
Case selection	6
Pattern matching	7
Congruence testing	7
Explanation-building	7
Process tracing	8
Controlled observation	8
Time series analysis	9
Critical incident technique (CIT)	9
Meta-analysis	10
Assumptions	13
Frequently Asked Questions	14
What are common standards for case studies based dissertations?	14
Is case study research a social science substitute for scientific experimentation?	15
Aren't case studies unscientific because they cannot be replicated?	16
Aren't case studies unscientific because findings cannot be generalized?	16
How is case study research related to complexity science?	17
What is nVivo?	17
What is xSight?	18
Bibliography	19